Thursday, May 15, 2014
To my surprise, Suzie was one of the best travel companions. It defiantly takes a special person to spend every waking moment of 10 weeks together and not have someone dead by the end. Yes, there were times when we wanted to kill each other and even debated splitting up, but through it all, we stood side by side. We could be grown up travelers one moment and have side aching laughter like giddy children the next. Sisters have a remarkable bond that will never break. She gets me better than anyone else. For goodness sakes, we have the same mother and father so we understand each other. We were on the same time schedule, financially equivalent, and showed interest in similar things.
At points in our travels, I never thought I would travel with Suzie again in the future, but now looking back at it, I can only smile with the good memories. I’m going to miss her this next month and am excited for our next adventures!
Traveling with her was like re-meeting an old friend. We haven’t spent more than Christmas break together in the last 8 years. I had to replace the shy Suzie who use to make me ask the store attendant for the location of the bathroom with an older, mature, wardrobe-designing, young professional. I saw a lot of her in me and vice versa. I relearned my sister’s character, including strengths and weaknesses which often times mirror my strengths and weaknesses. All of this caused me to learn so much about myself. More surprising than anything, we biologically reacted very similarly to things. We responded to drugs, sicknesses, and exhaustion in the same manner. If I had a headache due to travel exhaustion, most likely Suzie had the same headache.
It never fails to get to the airport early and check, double check, and check again your flight details.
Number one rule of traveling: always trust your instinct. No matter where you are or what is going on, if you get a bad feeling, trust it. Especially being a women. Don’t be scared to say no. There is no such thing as a grey area, and if you feel like you’re heading that way, say no. Be straight forward and stern. Though, saying no doesn’t mean you’re being impolite or rude. You can be nice while still keeping to your opinion and standing strong.
There are different limits in all cultures, but you have your own limits and they shouldn’t be crossed, no matter what culture you are in. Yes language barriers and being open-minded can make it difficult to decipher your limits, but always remember, it is better to be safe than sorry.
Are people really that nice or does niceness come with a toll? Of course there are genuinely nice people out there who care about others, but there are defiantly people who take advantage of the system. Signs to look for:
1. Does the person continue to talk about how good they are? Even after you’ve acknowledge that they are a good person, do they still persist to tell you so?
2. Do they try to convince you to do something and use numerous tactics as to why to do it, or why to trust them?
3. They talk down upon other people.
4. They slyly mention repayment numerous times.
Never feel pressured or rushed to do anything. Take your time, think about the options, and make the decision for yourself. Often times persistent people have a different plan in mind, so don’t become the victim.
Be prepared. Sometime things don’t go the way you planned. Always have a plan B which may change as the circumstances change. Constantly think about what is going on and if anything seems weird or suspicious. The more you can see ahead, the easier the present decisions will be.
Confrontation is key. When in a difficult situation, be as blunt as possible. I have heard numerous stories from friends that when being followed, turning around and confronting the person is often times the safest thing to do.
Suzie and I got the opportunity to talk to a women who has done an extensive amount of traveling, alone and with others. These are words of wisdoms and knowledge from a collection of traveling souls. With this knowledge Suzie and I have stayed safe and responsible throughout our travels. Please take the advice however you wish.
Pokhara is the most distinctive spot where tourists meet the native Nepali people. The two groups of people are shaken and blended together, but mix as well as water and oil. The tourist walk past slyly gawking while the natives continue with their normal life. The most interaction is in shops and through trekking guides. The kids though, do not follow their parents’ lead. They wave and yell hello to you. Often time they approach you and want to hold your hand. This is all fun and games until you hear "give me candy", "give me money", and "give me chocolate". It sometimes seems like your running from zombies (YouTube). The street children are even worse. They pop out of nowhere and demand everything. It has become a game for them: How many things can I get from the tourist. They ask for your bracelets. They ask for your water even when there's a spigot 10 feet away. They try to annoy you enough so you want to give them stuff just to go away. The worst thing a tourist can ever do is give street kids sweets or money. This keeps the street kids and village children on the streets. If they can make three times the average person by begging, why would they go to school, get a normal job, or stay in programs to get them off the street? Parents in villages also hate when tourist give the kids things. So, from one traveler to another, don’t do it!
Pokhar was more touristy than Thamel! I yi yi, everywhere you looked you saw westerners and Nepali tourist loading up their shopping bag for their big trek. This land is the trekking mecca of Nepal. If you come to Nepal, most likely you either hike Everest Base Camp or trek in Pokhara. The feeling of this little town nestled between a lake and a mountain range is that of a ski town in the summer. Everyone is very outdoorsy and did I mention there’s a whole hell of a lot of tourist.
Pokhara is also the most distinctive spot where tourists meet the native Nepali people. The mixing between the two cultures is purely water and oil. The tourist walk past and slyly gawk while the natives continue on their their normal life. The most interaction is in shops and trekking guides. The kids do not follow their parents way. They wave and yell hello to you. Often time they approach you and want to hold your hand. This is all fun and games until you hear "give me candy", "give me money", "give me chocolate". It sometimes seems like your running from zombies. The street children are even worse. They pop out of nowhere and demand everything. It has become a game for them: How many things can I get from the tourist. They ask for your bracelets. They ask for your water even when a spigot is 10 feet away. They try to annoy you so much that you give them stuff just to go away. The worst thing you can ever do is give these kids sweets or money. This keeps the street children and village kids on the streets. If they can make three times the average person by begging, why would they go to school, get a normal job, or stay in programs to get them off the street. Parents in villages also hate when tourist give the kids things.
Completely shaken and blended together, but mix as well as water and oil
While we were Pokhara, we wondered through the town, spent a day biking, and, of course, trekked. The trek was three days and two nights. After talking to other travelers, we discovered it’s not uncommon for one or two of the three days to be very short without a lunch on the last day, no matter what time you arrive in Pokhara. Through the grapevine, we found our guide which turned out to be about half of normal cost. Ya, I’ll take that ; ) First night we stayed in Sarangot to wake up to an amazing sunrise. The sky was clear and the Anapurana mountain range laid right in front of us. A sight I couldn’t forget even if I tried. The next day we hiked along the ridge, down to the creek, and back up the other side to spend the right in Dampus. Here we met our new American friends. They are a fun, middle aged couple working in Antarctica. Six months of work and six months of play, not too shabby! Suzie, Sheila (our new friend), and myself had “girl talk” until lights out. The next day was an easy 2 hour hike down the ridge to a crowded bus which took us back to Pokhara. Overall, it was a good hike, and now it was time to bike!
So, let me first remind you of Suzie and my previous bike rides. We tried biking the bumpy road from hell in Vang Vieng, and then we had our pitiful attempt to go fishing in Pai. Not learning from the past, we took off bright and early at 11am with bikes, helmets, a map, and a few snacks. We biked around the lake, stopped for tea, as per usual, and ventured across a bridge into somewhat no man’s land. We figured if we kept biking towards Pokhara around the lake at some point we’ll either hit the highway or town! Perfect plan right?? It was a lovely bike ride up and down small hills and weaving closer and further around the lake to avoid croplands. After ignoring a warning from a local, we continued our joyful biking. The trail narrowed and soon we were pushing our bikes instead of riding them due to the steep hill and loose dirt. At first, it wasn’t so bad since there was a mix of places to bike and places to walk. We ate lunch with a spectacular view and continued up the mountain with a general idea of where we were on the map. Half an hour of walking turned into two hours of walking. Yep, I was defiantly over it by now! Suzie, on the other hand, wanted to continue up. “Grrrrrr. Bikes are for riding, not walking,” I barked! Finally when we asked someone how long until Pokhara, he said it wasn’t too far but he could help us hoping to gain a few bucks. Finally we found out what “not too far” meant. My ass where we doing this for another 3 hours!!! It was now time to turn around. Let the fun times begin! Wahooooo! It took us half an hour to get down what took us two hpurs to get up. We took a shortcut back and got to cross the river with a homemade pontoon. On our way back to town we stumbled across a lakeside restaurant with the best dal baut we’ve had! Ok, I’m happy now : )
The first day was fun, nothing too intense. Though, there was a cliff jump about 17 feet high which got your blood pumping. That night we danced to Nepali music (similar to Indian) and enjoyed the evening. Day two was going to be a big one! Other rafters joined so now there were two rafts: one with Suzie, me, and guides and one filled with middle aged men. We started higher than normal so I got a little nervous! At least Suzie and I were as safe as possible. I don’t know how much could go wrong with 2 novice rafters placed with 4 guide rafters and the leader. When the man in charged yelled for us to go right, hot damn did we turn right! We completed a few class V rapids that were extremely technical. My favorite rapids were called Frog in the Blinder and the Gerbil. We have now rafted the 7th best river in the world and didn’t even get stuck once (thanks to the guides)!